A Virtual Field Trip:
Stars of the Milky Way

Let's move out from discovering how Chandra works, to exploring some of the exciting science to come out of the observatory.

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has imaged the spectacular, glowing remains of exploded stars, and traced the dispersal of elements. Chandra has observed the region around the supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way, and found black holes across the Universe. Chandra has also traced the separation of dark matter from normal matter in the collision of galaxies in a cluster and is contributing to both dark matter and dark energy studies. Let’s dive in deeper to some celestial objects, in 3D.

Travel to the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, or take a trip to the Crab Nebula pulsar. Explore these two cosmic objects in virtual reality, learn more about their science, and try some hands-on activities related to exploded stars and stellar evolution.

Milky Way Galaxy: Side View

6,500 light years from Earth, the Crab Nebula contains the remains of an exploded star. The powerhouse "engine" energizing the Crab system is a pulsar (a rapidly spinning neutron star), which is sending out bursts of radiation 30 times a second.

In addition to representing the information in 3D, we can also translate it into sound.

In Experts used X-ray data from Chandra to create a 3D representation of the Crab to explore. The structures revealed include the pulsar and a ringed disk of energized material, with jets of particles that fire off from opposite ends of the energetic pulsar.

Try it yourself!

3D Print a Crab
Tinkercad 3D Modeling
MicroObservatory- Observe it yourself

One of the most famous bodies in the night sky is the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant, located about 11,000 light years away from Earth. This object was created when a massive star ran out of fuel and exploded, hurtling its outer layers into space at millions of miles per hour. Because this material has been superheated, it glows brightly in X-ray light that is more energetic than what humans can see with their eyes.

This data of Cassiopeia A was captured by Chandra and combined with infrared and visible light to make the first ever 3D model of an exploded star. The colors shown in the 3D model map locations of iron, silicon, sulfur and other chemical elements in the remnant.

In addition to representing the information in 3D, we can also translate it into sound.

Try it yourself!

A Universe of Making and doing
Reach accross the stars
Js9 Use NASA Data
Planet Illustration
Back to top
Contact Us
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
60 Garden Street,
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Curator/Manager: Kimberly Arcand
Illustration/Art Direction: Kristin DiVona
Web Developer: Khajag Mgrdichian

Developed by the Chandra X-ray Center, at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in Cambridge, MA, with funding by NASA under contract NAS8-03060   |   Privacy | Accessibility
NASA's Universe of Learning materials are based upon work supported by NASA under award number NNX16AC65A to the Space Telescope Science Institute, working in partnership with Caltech/IPAC, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.   |   Privacy | Accessibility
Universe of Learning